Workforce Shortage or Labor Movement

The industrial revolution was a movement from making goods by hand to making them by machine. Since  the early 2000’s, Asia has become a dominant player in manufacturing consumer based goods many of those jobs in the US have transitioned as we are moving to more robotic manufacturing.

As a recruiter for both contract and permanent positions, I see the workforce changing not only in healthcare but also in hospitality, entertainment, technology, and finance – even retail. The pandemic created a call to action to focus on our health, combat COVID-19, and change our lives.

The other day in Target one early morning, a number of shoppers were directed to the self-checkout counter. Even our favorite local restaurants require a wait, not for a table or section but so the servers have time to attend to their tables. They too are starting to implement self-serve ordering systems as many fast casual restaurants have always done. In 2019, several labor groups worked to limit self-checkout counters at grocery stores as there was the fear that they would displace the need for labor. Now there is a shortage of labor.

At the ultraHealth Agency, we see the clinical nurse who now wants to travel to different medical facilities. A friend or spouse may one day decide they hate their job – has always hated their job – and it’s time to leave. Then there is the co-worker who opted for the company with a remote position. In 2021,  2.4 million Americans retired early; the remaining US workforce is still active. So why is there a labor shortage?

Could it be that life is too short: maybe it this is the adage we need to do what we love. Could it be with the reduced workforce, employees saw opportunities with other companies or industries. Could it be about compensation?

For everyone it’s different: it could be the location and moving from urbanization to the suburbs or different states or even countries. It all makes a difference as to why the labor markets are being redefined. It’ not a shortage: it’s a change.

The workforce didn’t disappear; it has simply shifted much like it shifted in the late 1700’s. It is a shifting in the workforce  but not a shortage.